To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits to (a) patients and (b) NHS England of permanently reducing the number of doses of radiotherapy and cycles of adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer patients.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
8 December 2020
Breast cancer treatments are advancing all the time, and, despite the pandemic, this year is no exception with developments having been made in both radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments – both of which are likely to benefit breast cancer patients and the National Health Service as follows:
- The publication of the ten-year results of the FAST Trial, which looked at five fraction radiotherapy to treat early breast cancer, is an exciting breakthrough which enables people with breast cancer to be treated much more quickly and conveniently meaning fewer visits to hospital. All NHS radiotherapy providers in England are adopting this approach; and
- The PERSEPHONE trial evaluated the use of trastuzumab over a six month period versus a 12 month period to evaluate non-inferiority. In response to the pandemic, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence developed interim guidance which recommended the use of the six month schedule. This approach means that patients attend hospital for a shorter overall period in order to reduce the risk of infection to vulnerable patients.
How and if these treatments become part of the standard of care for breast cancer patients will be determined by the breast cancer clinical community, working in partnership with NHS England, and guided by research findings as they emerge.